Haass Rumored to Be New Mideast Pointman

Richard Haass is rumored to be set to become new Middle East pointman (see Jim Lobe below). This would be a good choice. See his profile at Wikipedia. Richard Nathan Haass (born July 28, 1951, Brooklyn) has been president of the Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, prior to which he was Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State and a close advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell. See, “The New Middle East,” in Foreign Affairs 2006.

Syria Implies Terms for Resumption of Talks with Israel, As-Sharq al-Awsat (Thanks Alex)

Walid Mouallem, Syria’s Foreign Minister, explains that Syria set its terms for a resumption of indirect negotiations with Israel. They are:

1) Hudna between Hamas and Israel
2) Opening up access to Gaza
3) Ensuring that Israel’s engagement with the Syrians will not be at the expense of the Palestinian track.

 وعن إيقاف سورية للمفاوضات غير المباشرة عبر الوسيط التركي رداً على العدوان الإسرائيلي، أوضح الوزير المعلم أن «هذه المحادثات انطلقت في ظل تهدئة بين حماس وإسرائيل مدتها ستة أشهر وتنص على رفع الحصار»، مؤكداً أن إسرائيل هي التي خرقت هذه التهدئة، قبل أن يتابع «أن شرط المحادثات غير المباشرة كما يعرف الأشقاء في تركيا كان ألا تقوم إسرائيل بأي عمل عسكري ضد غزة أو الضفة الغربية وأن لا يكون ذلك على حساب المسار الفلسطيني ومن الطبيعي عندما قامت إسرائيل بهذا العدوان الهمجي ضد غزة أن تتوقف المحادثات غير المباشرة رغم أن استعادة الجولان المحتل هو أمر مهم وغال بالنسبة لسورية ويشكل أولوية لكن هذا الموقف مهم من جانب القيادة السورية لأن ما يجري في غزة من مجازر يستحق وقف هذه المحادثات غير المباشرة ويبرهن أن إسرائيل ليست لديها إرادة صنع السلام»

Mouallem was much more vague about “terms” than the Assharq Alawsat article suggests. The context is provided below. Mouallem preserves flexibility for Syria to restart talks in the future.

Syria: Israel proved it doesn’t want peace
Roee Nahmias Published: 01.05.09/ Israel News

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem defined the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip as “a barbaric act any way you look at it” and called on the international community “to try those responsible to these war crimes which violate international law, including the Geneva Treaty.” 

In a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan after completing a series of meetings in Ankara, Moallem said, “I came to Turkey to discuss ways to bring about an immediate ceasefire, a removal of the blockade and the opening of all crossings, as well as finding a mechanism to achieve these goals.

“I stress to you that our opinions are similar and that we have formed a joint stance.”…. Turkish Foreign Minister Babacan called on Israel to hold its fire immediately. …. 

“Relying on the Security Council at this stage is imaginary and wont’ achieve a thing,” he claimed.  Moallem said the indirect Turkish-mediated talks between Syria and Israel were halted “naturally”.

When the indirect talks began there was an agreement on a lull between Hamas and Israel achieved through Egypt. It was valid for six months, during which the siege should have been lifted, but Israel violated it two weeks later,” the Syrian minister argued. 

“Turkey knew that the talks between us were being held as long as Israel didn’t launch a military operation in Gaza or in the West Bank and that this would not be at the expense of the Palestinians. It was natural that in such a situation, with the aggression on Gaza, the talks would be halted.

“Returning the Golan Heights is important, but this stance is also important to the Syrian leadership. This aggression proves that Israel has no desire for peace.”

 Dennis Ross Will Get Iran File, Haass will get Israel-Arab conflict, says Nelson Report: by Jim Lobe

“…Dennis Ross will become Special Envoy for Iran, reporting directly to SecState-designate Clinton, rather than to the White House. …

Nelson also reports that Richard Haass will be Special Envoy for Israel-Arab affairs, apparently something of a compromise between Ross and Dan Kurtzer. For the direction he is likely to take, particularly regarding the Palestinian and Syrian tracks, see my article on his recent report co-authored with Martin Indyk. They also wrote a version of their policy recommendations in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs.

Nelson reports that Richard Holbrooke will become and Special Envoy for India and Pakistan and Anne Marie Slaughter head of Policy Planning, among many other likely appointments of particular relevance to Asia policy.”

Also see Lobe’s « Heilbrunn Reviews Neo-Con Travails

Beyond Iraq: A New U.S. Strategy for the Middle East
By Indyk and Haass
View article at Foreign Affairs, January/February 2009

Iraq has dominated U.S. policy in the Middle East for the last six years, but this is no longer necessary. The Obama administration will be able to reduce the U.S. presence in Iraq while pursuing a grand bargain with Iran, promoting peace between Jerusalem and Damascus, and forging a final-status Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Khalid Mish`al, This brutality will never break our will to be free
For six months we in Hamas observed the ceasefire. Israel broke it repeatedly from the start
The Guardian, Tuesday 6 January 2009

For 18 months my people in Gaza have been under siege, incarcerated inside the world’s biggest prison, sealed off from land, air and sea, caged and starved, denied even medication for our sick. After the slow death policy came the bombardment. In this most densely populated of places, nothing has been spared Israel’s warplanes, from government buildings to homes, mosques, hospitals, schools and markets. More than 540 have been killed and thousands permanently maimed. A third are women and children. Whole families have been massacred, some while they slept.

This river of blood is being shed under lies and false pretexts. For six months we in Hamas observed the ceasefire. Israel broke it repeatedly from the start. Israel was required to open crossings to Gaza, and extend the truce to the West Bank. It proceeded to tighten its deadly siege of Gaza, repeatedly cutting electricity and water supplies. The collective punishment did not halt, but accelerated – as did the assassinations and killings. Thirty Gazans were killed by Israeli fire and hundreds of patients died as a direct effect of the siege during the so-called ceasefire. Israel enjoyed a period of calm. Our people did not….. (read the rest)

Bush Plan Eliminated Obstacle to Gaza Assault
Inter Press Service | Gareth Porter | January 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (IPS) – Until mid-2007, there was a serious political obstacle to a massive conventional war by Israel against Hamas in Gaza: the fact that Hamas had won free and fair elections for the Palestinian parliament and was still the leading faction in a fully legitimate government.

But the George W. Bush administration helped Israel eliminate that obstacle by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power in Gaza. That plan was aimed at getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the democratically elected Hamas government — something Bush had tried unsuccessfully to do for many months….

A New Middle Eastern Cold War
Michael Young, 01.05.09
The true theater behind Gaza.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The term “Arab cold war” was popularized by the late American scholar Malcolm Kerr, who in 1971 published a book of the same name. A deserving classic at a concise 166 pages (with index), The Arab Cold War examined how the Arab world of the 1950s and 1960s was governed by “urgent appeals to Arab unity,” when the reality was that “its governments and parties [were] dominated by bitter rivalry.”….

…. Judging from the limited Egyptian reaction to his injunctions, Nasrallah overplayed his hand. The Arab states, mediocre as they are, are more solid than their enemies imagine. Militant Islamist groups may be better at fighting Israel, but they cannot substitute for what states offer. However, the traditional Arab powerhouses are being marginalized by the more dynamic non-Arab states on their periphery–Iran, Turkey and Israel–as well as by some Arab states, such as Syria and Qatar, that have profited from the widening rifts provoked by the new Middle Eastern cold war.

What lessons are there for the United States here? The Obama administration should recognize these dynamics and accept that its allies are less credible because they are undemocratic, have narrow legitimacy, and offer no hope of amelioration to their peoples, while Israel further undermines them by denying a political horizon to the Palestinians.

Arab democratization is a bad word for many Obama Middle East hands, who seek a return to a political realism justifying making deals with America’s foes. Democracy-building smacks too much of George W. Bush. Yet unless the Arabs open their societies up in states that are more than monuments to intimidation, America’s allies will continue to lose ground, and America with them. In the realism game, Iran and Syria, like the militant Islamists, are better than Washington. The Americans won one cold war, but victory in this Middle Eastern version may be dodgier.

An Iraqi debt: Editorial of the Baltimore Sun
Our view: America should do more to aid 2 million refugees from the war we started
January 4, 2009

Violence is significantly lower these days in Iraq, and the Americans who still keep the peace there are busy planning for a significant troop withdrawal over the next 18 months. But that country’s hopes for a brighter economic future are shadowed by the loss of more than 2 million refugees – many of them doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers – who have fled to Jordan, Syria and other neighboring countries.

Most of these displaced people are afraid to return to Iraq, which they believe remains unsafe. Now they are trapped in countries where they are less than welcome and sinking into poverty. It’s a plight laid out in vivid detail in a recent series of stories by Baltimore Sun reporter Matthew Hay Brown.

Their continued exile represents a challenge that America has a responsibility to deal with. The United States has resettled more than 16,000 Iraqis over the past two years. The Bush administration has contributed more than $500 million to the United Nations and other organizations to address the crisis. But as the country that unleashed the chaos that fed the Iraqi exodus, America should be doing much more.

During last year’s presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to provide at least $2 billion to expand services to these Iraqi refugees, and that’s a pledge he must keep, if this nation is to accept its moral responsibility to help victims of the war.

Ending the War in Gaza International Crisis Group

Royal Slams US “Reckless” Position On Gaza

RIYADH (AFP)–A member of the Saudi royal family blasted the U.S. government on Tuesday for its “reckless” position towards Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.

“The Bush administration has left you (with) a disgusting legacy and a reckless position towards the massacres and bloodshed of innocents in Gaza,” Prince Turki al-Faisal said in a message directed at President-elect Barack Obama. “Enough is enough, today we are all Palestinians and we seek martyrdom for God and for Palestine, following those who died in Gaza,” Faisal, a former ambassador to the U.S., said at a forum on relations between the Gulf region and the U.S.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal slammed Israeli politicians for “shedding Palestinian blood in what has become a tactic for Israeli parties to settle their election battles.” In an address read out at the forum by his deputy, the minister said peace in the region won’t be achieved unless Israel pulls out of the territories it occupies.

He called on Obama to live up to his campaign message of “change,” urging co-operation with the Arab world. “Together we can reach a peaceful and permanent solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict,” he said.

Comments (131)

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101. norman said:


Thank you , There are still good people,

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January 8th, 2009, 1:34 pm


102. Akbar Palace said:

But to turn a blind eye to ongoing criminal behavior, to racism…


But I haven’t. In fact, I’m the lone person here discussing the criminality of fighting from the middle of the civilian population as well as the anti-semitism throughout the Arab media.

If you ask me, “the blind eye” comes from the chorus of the pro-Hamas, Syria Comment crowd and their fearless Co-director, Center of “Peace Studies”.


I’m sorry to disappoint you. Your ideologues had their chance to make peace (Meretz, Labor, Aloni, Beilin, Dayan, Sarid) and it was all a mirage.

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January 8th, 2009, 1:49 pm


103. offended said:

The Red Cross accuses Israel of failing to help wounded civilians in Gaza, after finding children clinging to their mothers’ corpses.


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January 8th, 2009, 1:54 pm


104. Chris said:


The NYTimes affirms your earlier post about Dennis Ross, he will be the U.S.’ man for Iran. From the NYTimes:

Dennis B. Ross, a veteran of Middle East peace negotiations in the Clinton and the first Bush administrations, is set to take over a portfolio focused on Iran, officials said. His job would not be called special envoy, given the lack of diplomatic ties between the United States and Iran.
( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/politics/08diplo.html?scp=9&sq=hillary%20clinton&st=cse )

As far as Richard Holbrooke is concerned the NYTimes is placing him as the likely candidate as the U.S. envoy to India and Pakistan:

While Mr. Obama has not signed off on these positions, according to officials, Mrs. Clinton is likely to name Richard C. Holbrooke, a longtime diplomat who brokered the Dayton accord that brought peace to Bosnia, as a special envoy to Pakistan and India, said people who have been told of the decision.
( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/politics/08diplo.html?scp=9&sq=hillary%20clinton&st=cse )

And now for the grand finale, the prognosticators at the NYTimes are putting there money on either Richard Haass or Daniel Kurtzer. In their words:

With the deepening crisis in Gaza, Mrs. Clinton may also name a special envoy for Arab-Israeli issues. Richard N. Haass, a former State Department official in the Bush administration, and Daniel C. Kurtzer, who served as United States ambassador to Israel and Egypt, have both been mentioned.

Mr. Haass, who is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said he was flattered by the attention but had not been approached, according to his spokeswoman. Mr. Holbrooke did not reply to requests for comment, while Mr. Ross and Mr. Kurtzer declined to comment.
( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/08/us/politics/08diplo.html?scp=9&sq=hillary%20clinton&st=cse )

Now since the NYTimes is not being definitive about either Haass or Kurtzer I must again say that I’d heard from a well placed and highly regarded academic two nights ago that Richard Holbrooke will be picked as Middle East envoy.

We’ll see!

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January 8th, 2009, 2:00 pm


105. Alex said:

It seems Hillary Clinton is assembling a team that is very AIPAC and Likud friendly. But hiring Ross as special envoy for the Middle East is not easy.

Denis Ross is tactically boycotted in Syria, if they appoint him to anything dealing directly with Syria then he will stay in Washington, or he can continue the fine diplomacy of the Bush administration for the next 4 or 8 years, why not.

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January 8th, 2009, 4:08 pm


106. idaf said:

Shai, Rumyal,

I just want to say that you are doing your people an invaluable and severely underappreciated service that no one else (other than peace-loving Israelis) can deliver.

Forget your accurate understanding and rightful pursuit of the strategic interest of Israel in peace and coexistence. That’s just your patriotism. More importantly, people like Akbar owe you an enormous debt of gratitude beyond that.. I lost count of how many times in the past months I referred to your posts both simpleminded Arabs and non-Arabs (who emotionally but ignorantly are pushed to the verge of anti-Semitism whenever one of Israel’s numerous brutal onslaught is on display) as evidence that “Jews are not like that”.

Your words have a magical healing effect on these understandably enraged people that serve to put the blame back where it belongs.. on the Israeli warmongers.

The more your country produce people like you the better life people like Akbar would have, even if they do not appreciate it.

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January 8th, 2009, 4:13 pm


107. Off the Wall said:

Dear Rumyal and Shai

I am still incapable of overcoming my anger, but I just want to say, thank you both. Keep up the good work and I hope to join the posting soon again. At this point in time, it has become abovious that the IDF is out for murder, press is still not allowed in, and the world has lost its ability for rage.

This electioneering war illustrates that things can not continue as they are. Something really serious must be done.

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January 8th, 2009, 4:24 pm


108. Yossi said:

The international community is silent because they view this massacre as a war between Israel and an Iranian proxy. Encouraged by this silence Israel exposes its true face. There is a tiny, if any, security benefit in crushing Gaza. Hamas offered ceasefires all along and its primitive rockets could be intercepted by a system based on the Phalanx canon that the Israeli MoD refuses to deploy.

Why do the Israelis crush Gaza and with such enthusiasm? As an Israeli the answer is clear to me, it’s because people here love it when Arabs are killed. Politicians who manage to do it with minimal Israeli casualties are admired and their way is paved.

New historical revelations teach us that the Arab states didn’t seek wars with Israel. When such wars were provoked Israel usually won due to Arab lack of motivation, Israeli soldiers fear of genocide and having more and better arms.

I don’t think this situation will prevail for long. Non-Arab Muslim nations who really know how to fight are slowly joining the scene. First Iran, then Iraq, Turkey, maybe Pakistan. A US bogged down by a trillion dollar deficit a year wouldn’t be able to support a huge war machine nor those of its allies. The regional balance of power will shift and this combined with the internal disintegration of Israeli society will end the current state.

So why the Israelis do their best now to justify their bad name? I think this is their way to bolster their courage. They call this “deterrence” but it’s actually all in their heads.

Another reason is to test Obama. Can he really change the direction of US policy or only talk? Half confident in their power they perform the opposite of his expected policy and wait to see his reaction. They’re effectively taunting:

Nigger Nigger
Sissy teacher
Nigger Nigger
Mine is bigger

I think Obama understands he is being challenged. What his reaction will be? I don’t know. He was elected to pick the pieces of a crumbling empire and mend it. Is it possible?

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January 8th, 2009, 4:36 pm


109. Off the Wall said:

Forget the leaders, go after the pilots, the soliders, and the low ranking officers.

Calls for trials of Israeli leadership will get us no where. What is required is to make every Israeli citizen concerned about serving in the army or the air force. Refusing to fight for humanitarian reasons is honorable and luadable but it would get no where, what should be done is to publish the names of every Israeli pilot, and for that matter every american, british, and australian pilot who contributed to the murders of tens of thousand of Iraqis with the banner saying “Wanted for War Crime” along with a list of the names of all of their victims and the age of the victims, the location of the crime and the murder weapon. I It must become personal, and murderers must be held accountable. If you are willing to participate in agression, you must be held accountable. When the US began treating vietnam soldiers for what the were, participants in an illegal crime, the war ended, and without similar change of paradigm in Israel things will not change. This of course goes both ways, as the other side must also learn to shun those advocating for reciprocal murder. Without pilots, willing to murder innocent civilians, war mongers will only be replaced by another gang and the cycle will continue. There is much symoblism of making it hard for Sharon to travel abraod, but it should be as hard for any Israeli pilot, captain, and soldier, who participated in the war on lebanon and in the current war on Gaza to travel anywhere outside Israel, as long as long as Israel continue to use the army for agression and as long as members of these forces are willing to participate in agression. These names must be made available to every human resources office an large and small companies as well with a warning not to hire war criminals when they take off the soldier uniform.

Rational beings are able to distinguish betweem legitimate defense and ethnic cleansing. This may seem naive, and from where I stand, every participant in these war crimes should be held accountable. We learned that during the nuremberg trials and we should, as advocate for non-violense face the reality, even if it causes us to confront members of our family. Only when the masses stop calling murderers heros, and call them for what they are, things may begin to change. It can be a big controversial project. But for now, it seems to be the only way those “heroes” can be given the opportunity to pause and think.

You can not take a country to trial, but when we can teach everyone to stop worshiping war criminals and start holding them accountable, we may have a chance. We should rob them of respectability and of any opportunity to benefit from their crimes.

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January 8th, 2009, 5:04 pm


110. Akbar Palace said:

Yossi says:

So why the Israelis do their best now to justify their bad name?

Yossi, I am not aware of their bad name. Neither are most Americans, especially those Americans who never understood why Israel has to accept thousands of rockets into her territory for years without responding forcefully.

Other than that, your post was excellent, as it met the strictest anti-Israel sentiment so vital on this website.

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January 8th, 2009, 6:10 pm


111. offended said:

Another self-hating Jew. There are many of them, you know.

‘bokhim ve-yorim’

“As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted – a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, “crying and shooting”.


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January 8th, 2009, 6:50 pm


112. Averroes said:


I did not take your earlier writings as hostile. I’ve been reading your posts for a while and I know we have a good common ground.

Unfortunately, I think the huge success that organizations like AIPAC have had in the US will prevent Israel from learning the right lessons, if we can call them that. Israel’s reply to 2006 is, as usual, more of the same: More bombs, more violence, more killing … maybe the Arabs will get the message.

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January 8th, 2009, 7:19 pm


113. Shai said:


Thank you for those words, they mean a lot to me, and I’m sure to Rumyal as well. These past 13 days have been the worst I can recall, perhaps ever. What my country’s leadership has decided to do, and the blanket support they receive from the entire political spectrum in Israel, have brought upon me, and all other peace-loving Israelis, the greatest shame. Most of my life I’ve walked with my head held high, proud of being an Israeli. After these two horrific weeks, I can no longer say that. I hope that, too, will change.

I must tell you that aside from noticing the unbelievable courage those poor Palestinians are exhibiting, I am also aware of the courage displayed by some of you here, on SC, in still accepting me as an Israeli on your forum. I don’t take that for granted and, in a way, I’m surprised. But do know that your words of acceptance give me strength, and hope, and the knowledge that my pursuit of peace must not succumb to the personal shame I feel at the moment. It is because of you, that I have come here in the first place, and it is because of you, that I must continue to fight for what I believe so strongly in – that Jews and Arabs can and must learn to live with one another, equally, respectfully, and in peace.


Barely an hour ago, I said to my wife that Israel absolutely has the right to still consider itself in a David-vs.-Goliath state of conflict. Except, that we’re no longer David…

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January 8th, 2009, 7:23 pm


114. offended said:

Although long, professor Avi Shlaim’s article is an EXCELLENT synopsis of the history of the conflict. I really wanted to post it all here, but then it’s too long for the forum, so instead I invite you all to read it from the Guardian’s website!

By the way, I was told long time ago by a wise old english man that for every saying in a language or a culture, there’s an equivalent saying in every other culture; so ‘bokhim ve-yorim’ in arabic would be:
‘darabni we baka, saba’ni we ishtaka’ (he hit me and cried, ran ahead of me and complained)

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January 8th, 2009, 7:40 pm


115. Rumyal said:

Idaf, OTW,

Shai expresses my feelings very well. My wife and I have also been going through difficult days.

Thank you for your encouraging words. You can imagine that it’s sometimes a very testing balancing act to remain patriotic when you so vehemently disagree with your country’s policies and the behavior of your countrymen.

It is also difficult sometimes to find the way to bring criticism forward on the Palestinian side, given the current circumstances, but if we don’t do that, the discussion ceases to be rooted in reality.

It is our responsibility to “channel” to you how the people in Israel feel and give any reasonable explanation for their behavior. After all we are here to promote understanding, not hatred. If objectively I can defend or explain an Israeli position I will do so, even though like I said this is becoming more and more difficult.

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January 8th, 2009, 7:48 pm


116. offended said:

“An Unnecessary War

By Jimmy Carter
Thursday, January 8, 2009; A15

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions. About 3,000 residents had moved to other communities, and the streets, playgrounds and shopping centers were almost empty. Mayor Eli Moyal assembled a group of citizens in his office to meet us and complained that the government of Israel was not stopping the rockets, either through diplomacy or military action.

Knowing that we would soon be seeing Hamas leaders from Gaza and also in Damascus, we promised to assess prospects for a cease-fire. From Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was negotiating between the Israelis and Hamas, we learned that there was a fundamental difference between the two sides. Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.

We knew that the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza were being starved, as the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food had found that acute malnutrition in Gaza was on the same scale as in the poorest nations in the southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day.

Palestinian leaders from Gaza were noncommittal on all issues, claiming that rockets were the only way to respond to their imprisonment and to dramatize their humanitarian plight. The top Hamas leaders in Damascus, however, agreed to consider a cease-fire in Gaza only, provided Israel would not attack Gaza and would permit normal humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Palestinian citizens.

After extended discussions with those from Gaza, these Hamas leaders also agreed to accept any peace agreement that might be negotiated between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the PLO, provided it was approved by a majority vote of Palestinians in a referendum or by an elected unity government.

Since we were only observers, and not negotiators, we relayed this information to the Egyptians, and they pursued the cease-fire proposal. After about a month, the Egyptians and Hamas informed us that all military action by both sides and all rocket firing would stop on June 19, for a period of six months, and that humanitarian supplies would be restored to the normal level that had existed before Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 (about 700 trucks daily).

We were unable to confirm this in Jerusalem because of Israel’s unwillingness to admit to any negotiations with Hamas, but rocket firing was soon stopped and there was an increase in supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel. Yet the increase was to an average of about 20 percent of normal levels. And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.

On another visit to Syria in mid-December, I made an effort for the impending six-month deadline to be extended. It was clear that the preeminent issue was opening the crossings into Gaza. Representatives from the Carter Center visited Jerusalem, met with Israeli officials and asked if this was possible in exchange for a cessation of rocket fire. The Israeli government informally proposed that 15 percent of normal supplies might be possible if Hamas first stopped all rocket fire for 48 hours. This was unacceptable to Hamas, and hostilities erupted.

After 12 days of “combat,” the Israeli Defense Forces reported that more than 1,000 targets were shelled or bombed. During that time, Israel rejected international efforts to obtain a cease-fire, with full support from Washington. Seventeen mosques, the American International School, many private homes and much of the basic infrastructure of the small but heavily populated area have been destroyed. This includes the systems that provide water, electricity and sanitation. Heavy civilian casualties are being reported by courageous medical volunteers from many nations, as the fortunate ones operate on the wounded by light from diesel-powered generators.

The hope is that when further hostilities are no longer productive, Israel, Hamas and the United States will accept another cease-fire, at which time the rockets will again stop and an adequate level of humanitarian supplies will be permitted to the surviving Palestinians, with the publicized agreement monitored by the international community. The next possible step: a permanent and comprehensive peace.”



15% for god’s sake? 15 % of normal supplies? and you tell me this is not an attitude of a slavemaster?

This whole effing war was hinged upon the percentage of normal human supplies? why couldn’t israel be a bit more generous and offer a little more than 15%? maybe 50% could have done it? i bet the rations of food at the Gulags were better….


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January 8th, 2009, 8:07 pm


117. Rumyal said:

Averroes/Ibn Rushd the wise…

Yeah AIPAC is powerful and instrumental for Israel and therefore the most important battle ground in terms of pressuring Israel is in Jewish America. I still don’t know whether the alternative Jewish groups pose any threat to AIPAC’s image, but I hope so. When I think about AIPAC I see people in their 60’s+ I have a feeling that the upcoming political power of next generations is going to be much more leaning towards the liberal side.

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January 8th, 2009, 9:35 pm


118. Alex said:

Rumyal, I’m afraid we will have to wait a bit longer … I see a lot of members with very healthy black (and blond) hair … probably their median age is 40

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January 8th, 2009, 10:47 pm


119. Rumyal said:

To Akbar,

>>>> Rumyal: Akbar, You are very tiring.
>>>> Akbar: So don’t read my posts and go to sleep. Actually, I’ve received quite a few responses saying my posts were original and thought-provoking.

Akbar, your posts are not thought provoking at all, they are nothing but one line quips that never raise to any challenge that is brought to you. A commercial for toothpaste is more thought provoking. You speak out of great ignorance and you cause your people damage with you infantile misconceptions about history and current affairs. You are VERY tiring, and it’s an unpleasant task to answer you. Just that you know.

>>>> Akbar: No, I didn’t know “Israel drove out about 700,000 palestinian inhabitants in 48″. But if you want to simplify the argument to say the Israel “drove” them out, go right ahead.

OK, I will “go ahead” and do that. You can also go ahead and read some history, there were some very professional books written about 48 over the last 20 years by Israel historians. Before you dismiss them as “propaganda” or self-hating, consider that there was no refutation of their thesis published by any other historian, Israeli or other. The only response is books like “the case for Israel” which do not deal with historic records in a very disciplined manner. So if you really want to approach your activities here from the vantage point of actual knowledge, I suggest you start reading.

>>> Akbar: A LARGE percentage of Arabs left their homes on their own, without anyone dragging them out. A LARGE percentage stayed in their homes, which is why 20% of of Israelis are Arab. A LARGE percentage of Palestinians were driven from their homes as well. Add them up and you get 100%.

The 100% I’m talking about are the 700,00 that left their homes either voluntarily or non-voluntarily and were never allowed to return. If you want to talk about the fate of the Arabs who stayed put we can do this some other time.

>>>> Akbar: Considering the dire situation Israel was in (5 arab armies attacked after they rejected the Partition Plan), I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it. Of course, that was 60 years ago, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing this up now.

Do you know anything about the history of Ashkelon? It was an Arab town before 48 called Majdal. Most residents “left” in 48 but some stayed behind. The government debated for a few years what to do them. Then at the early 50’s they put them on buses and sent them packing to Gaza. Have you heard of the Yabné refugee camp in Gaza? You want to take a guess where they came from? From what is now the Israeli town of Yavné.

What makes 48 relevant is that it was never defused. Those refugees are still stuck in refugee camps in abject state in Gaza so until you fix that, there will be no peace. Maybe if Gaza was Bahrain then they would have forgotten their losses but since they don’t have a future, they cannot give up their past.

What also makes it relevant is that international law required Israel to admit them back and UN resolution 194 has enforced that.

>>>> Akbar: The UN offered a “type of solution”. The Arabs rejected it Rumyal.

While it was definitely short-sighted of them to reject the partition plan of 1947 in realistic terms, I can definitely justify their position in moral terms. Nobody asked the inhabitants of the country whether they wished to share it and under what conditions, it was foisted upon them by the colonial powers and they had all the reasons in the world to reject this colonization. The fact that the Arabs now (and for a long time already…) are willing to make peace is not because they recognize that their position was immoral but because they are willing to give up in order to secure the present and the future of the region. The fact that this seems all too complicated to you to comprehend means you should probably stay out of commentary.

>>>> Rumyal: Given *just this*, the fact that many Arabs are willing to accept Israel on a very accommodating terms is quite generous.
>>> Akbar: I don’t want to bore you, but can you tell me WHICH Arabs are “willing to accept Israel”? Alex? Qifa Napkin? Hamas? Hezbollah? And do you trust their “cease fire” once Israel goes to the borders they recommend?

Yes Alex the unwavering supporter for peace. “Qifa Napkin” which if you were nothing but a would-be-colonizer you would know means “how long shall we cry” which has millions of times argued to put the differences of the past behind us. It is really beyond me how you can even start suspecting the intentions of Alex and QN. Indeed our people suffer from severe distrust and hysteria.

Yes Hamas too, which has declared they are willing to 67 deal if the Palestinian people ratify it. Hizballah too which is becoming a Lebanese party which no longer can act freely against Israel (of course, 1000 more dead and maybe that won’t be true anymore). And of course I trust them, as long as the solution is viable for them and not a result of arm twisting and as long as we abide by it and generally go in the right direction. Akbar, Turkey is a Muslim country we have had very good relationship with, which has mediated between Israel and Syria and helped us in many other occasions. The PM puts his reputation on the line with these negotiations, and a few days later, we start the most disproportionate war ever. This type of behavior will drive away not only cautious past-enemies, it will drive away everybody, including your strongest allies. Take Hamas. We had a cease-fire agreement, right? But the “targeted assassination” in the West bank of Hamas people continued. Is this the behavior of somebody who plans to take the cease fire and built more trust into it, or somebody who’s long term goals are very violent? Consider Oslo. This was a severe case of Palestinians amateurism. It said nothing about stopping settlement activities and indeed we continued with the “peace process” by investing 300M a year in new settlements. What message was that sending?

*If* Israel took the strategic decision to make peace, it will find that 90% of the Arabs are very receptive. *If* Israel was a mature state (which it isn’t) it would also know that there always going to 10% of sabotagers, even if you reached all of the final agreements. Mature nations don’t go on rampages and destroy their long-term strategic alliances and outlook because of pinpricks, that are bound to exist in the ME for many more years.

>>>> Rumyal: So in this time when Israel murders children, instead of whining like a baby “I know that you’re lying and you don’t really love me… wah wah…” just shut up and stop for a second to ruminate on your positions.
>>>> Akbar: Israel has not “murdered” any children. Especially when the Hamas “fighters” fire missiles in the middle of population centers.

Mr. Detached, Israel is attacking said population centers and Hamas is resisting the attack. Where would you want them to do it from, the moon? Of course I’ve heard that the Hamas has been using human shields. That still doesn’t justify hitting a target even if there is a slim chance that you’ll hit civilians. This is not my opinion—this is international law. I guess Mr. Detached also doesn’t know that Israel uses human shields, right? In the West bank army units are kidnapping civilians and they are making them lead the way into houses that are suspected as booby trapped. Of course you wouldn’t know and you wouldn’t care.

>>>> Rumyal: You quote observer saying “What a pity that the Russian Jewish delegation in 1905 insisted that Palestine be the homeland of the new Jewish state when the other delegations were quite open to having the state be in South America or Australia” as if he said something unacceptable.
>>> Akbar: What Observer is saying isn’t unacceptable to me. I’m used to reading the whiners here on this forum. I pointed it out, because most of the posters on this forum still can’t accept a Jewish state despite your claims that they do.

Some of the commentators here don’t support the two-state solution for many good reasons. Those who have this opinion do support a single secular state with equal rights for all. In the many conversations we’ve had on the topic even those who want a one-state solution supported the notion that the single state is going to recognize Jewish heritage and bondage to the land. They view it as an essential part of their own heritage of multi-culturalism which is a defining them of the Levant. I’m sure there are millions of Islamists for whom the only solution is to kill every living Jews. This is not where they hang out, you should seek them out though, you’ll have much more common language with them though. Here, you’re barking on the wrong tree.

>>>> Rumyal: This was written for you Akbar…
>>>> Akbar: Sorry, I don’t read anything from the anti-Israel website “Counterpunch”. It puts me to sleep…

And so you doom yourself to ignorance. How expected.

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January 8th, 2009, 10:52 pm


120. Rumyal said:


Very depressing. Even for the biggest Israel fanboys in America, the question of how they would reconcile possible conflict of interest is a legitimate question that should be discussed transparently. Alas, AIPAC is determined to just stick its head in the sand. This is an organization that will not be able to adapt to changing geo-political circumstances, which is an excellent thing.

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January 8th, 2009, 11:11 pm


121. Alex said:


Thank you for your comprehensive answer to Akbar. It’s great that you are trying … For you (being more trustworthy than me and Qifa Napkin) Akbar is willing to open up his mind just a little it.

You wouldn’t consider going to one of those AIPAC meetings and talking to them? : ) .. maybe they would listen to you.

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January 8th, 2009, 11:44 pm


122. AIG said:

Where you in Israel when Rabin was murdered? Do you remember what happened between that November and when Bibi was elected? What happened was that Peres, who was MORE leftist than Rabin became PM, but hamas and arafat launched the most aggressive attacks of suicide bombings that led to bibi being elected. I voted for Peres that election, but when I came to my senses I saw that Bibi was right and you and my former self are completely wrong. It is not Israel that has to change, it is the Arabs.

Israel is a flawed democracy stumbling along. The Arabs are clueless. What the Arabs want is equivalent to the Israelis asking the Germans to bring back to life the 6 million dead. It can never happen. Just like the Jews accepted that they lost in Europe, the Arabs have to accept that they lost in Palestine. There is no other solution except war.

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January 9th, 2009, 1:25 am


123. Averroes said:

AIG said: “There is no other solution except war.”

Thank you for demonstrating the mainstream Israeli position so bluntly.

However, war, bombs, and killing will never bring you real peace and they will never bring you a lasting solution. Never, even if it takes 200 years, you will never get peace through crimes.

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January 9th, 2009, 1:57 am


124. Averroes said:

By Saree Makdisi – Counter Punch January 7, 2009

Israel has killed and wounded almost four thousand men, women and children so far in its assault on Gaza; it has entombed whole families together in the ruins of their homes. As I write these words, news is breaking that Israeli bombs have killed at least 40 civilians huddling in a UN school which they mistakenly thought would be safer than the homes from which Israel’s relentless barrage-and its deliberately terrorizing “warning” leaflets and prerecorded phone calls-had already driven them. (I still have one of the leaflets the Israelis dropped on besieged Beirut in 1982 and the language is exactly the same-“flee, flee for your lives!”). Mosques, schools, houses, apartment buildings, have all been brought down on the heads of those inside.

All this death and destruction comes supposedly in retaliation for rocket attacks that had not inflicted a single fatality inside Israel in over a year. What happened to “an eye for an eye?”

As horrific as the toll of dead and injured already is, the scale of Israel’s bombing, and its targeting of ambulances and medical and rescue crews-several doctors and paramedics have been killed or wounded so far-means that the true totals are actually unknown. Countless numbers of victims have bled to death in the streets or in the ruins of their smashed homes. Calls for help aren’t getting through Gaza’s phone networks, battered to pieces along with the rest of the civilian infrastructure-its water, sewage, electricity systems, all already crumbling as a result of the years of siege. The victims that are evacuated-as often, these days, in civilian cars as in the remaining ambulances-make it to hospitals that are overwhelmed; many will die that might have otherwise been saved.

Any hospital would be overwhelmed under the circumstances: how then for a hospital that has already been cut off by the three year old Israeli blockade of Gaza from urgently needed supplies, medicines, drugs, anesthetics, spare parts, fuel for generators? In fact, the true story of what Israel is doing to the people of Gaza is to be seen in the besieged territory’s hospitals: the smashed, burned, dusty bodies of children being carried in on makeshift blankets (there aren’t enough stretchers to go around); the morgue drawers full of bodies; the emergency rooms with badly hurt, crying people scattered on stretchers, on beds, on the blood-washed floors, as the doctors run from one to another trying to figure out who can be saved and who must be attended to first-the boy with his feet blown off? the old woman with the huge gash in her head? the young man with his guts hanging out of his stomach? the anguished little girl thrashing about in pain, in fear, in agony and begging for her mother who vanished in some monstrous explosion? And outside, on the crowded sidewalks, the other side of the human suffering that Israel has chosen to inflict on an entire population: the wailing mothers, fathers and children; the weeping young men; the panicked people rushing around trying to find loved ones after each new Israeli bombing.

All this to make Israelis feel secure? What security is this kind of barbarism ever likely to gain them?

These are the scenes that every Palestinian and every Arab around the world sees every single day on the uncensored, unedited, unfiltered and relentlessly, brutally honest coverage broadcast on the Arabic Al-Jazeera channel. Unlike the US and UK networks, Al-Jazeera has correspondents and camera crews all over Gaza; they are Arabs, some of them are Palestinians, and they all live among the people whose suffering they record for the whole world to see; they can communicate with them in their own language and in the language of the audience as well. The coverage continues continuously 24 hours a day.

Ordinary people around the rest of the world are seeing the version of events that gets filtered through the editing suites, the cutting rooms, the editorializing of foreign media, and that, in the case of the US, finally makes it to their living room largely (if not entirely) sanitized, and packaged to them in two-minute sound bites by correspondents posted safely outside of Gaza and inside Israel. The coverage broadcast from Israel is heavily monitored, controlled and censored. The Israeli army found in 2006 that its panicked soldiers in Lebanon were using cell phones to call home for help; this time it made sure to inspect all of its soldiers to make sure that none takes a phone with him into Gaza. The army imposes a smothering control over the flow of information; nothing that is reported from or datelined Israel can be read at face value or taken for granted.

If you get your news from an American television network, no matter how horrible you think what’s happening in Gaza is, the reality that you are not seeing is much, much, much worse. (Perhaps that’s why the English-language Al-Jazeera channel, widely followed in the rest of the world, is unofficially banned here-not a single cable or satellite provider carries it).

And yet even with this imperfect coverage it must be said that people all over the world, including in the US, are protesting what they are seeing. Huge, million-person demonstrations have been held, from Melbourne to Jakarta, from Calcutta to Istanbul, and from Vienna to London, not to mention the huge popular protests in Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Amman, across the length and breadth of the West Bank, and in some of the largest protests ever held in Palestinian communities inside Israel. Across the US, too, people have been protesting, holding vigils, writing letters to the editors of the newspapers demanding more balance to the warped coverage of the events that we see here, especially in papers like the New York Times. And the internet has been a major source of information for all those millions who have figured out that they will never learn what they need to learn from the New York Times or the Washington Post or ABC or CNN. Sites like Counterpunch, Electronic Intifada, Alternet, Truthdig, Huffington Post, Salon and many others besides have carried extraordinarily intelligent and detailed pieces by a range of commentators whose sense of what is happening far exceeds what is made available by professional journalists in the mainstream press-including many superb pieces by Jewish Americans who give the lie, once and for all, to the absurd notion that their community is solidly behind Israel’s violence.

Indeed, it seems clear that the writing now being posted on alternative media outlets is also starting to outweigh the clumsy efforts still being churned out by America’s army of paid and unpaid cheerleaders for Israel, who have forsaken what little remained of their own humanity and blinded themselves to suffering that ought to move any rational, caring, sentient human being to tears-the Dershowitzes and Foxmans, the Orens and Boots, the Krauthammers and Peretzes, the Bards and Goldfarbs, the cynical apparatchiks of CAMERA and AIPAC and the mindless busybodies and shuffling zombies of Stand With Us, the Israel Project and the Israel on Campus Coalition-who persist with their stubborn, craven defense of the indefensible. About these misanthropes there is much to be said, most of it too unpleasant to print, so I’ll shift the burden here to those memorable closing lines of Wilfred Owen’s war poem “Insensibility:”

But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
That they should be as stones.
Wretched are they, and mean
With paucity that never was simplicity.
By choice they made themselves immune
To pity and whatever mourns in man
Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
Whatever shares
The eternal reciprocity of tears.”

As for Israel itself: once again it has revealed its true nature to the world. It was only after the first reports came in of their own serious fatalities-soldiers caught in an ambush, though the censored news reports from Israel claim that it was all friendly fire-that the Israeli media suddenly started carrying reports wondering whether things have gone too far. “The Price of Stubbornness over Gaza Exit is Dead Soldiers,” write Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff in Ha’aretz. “For the first time, Israeli TV broadcasts raised the question of whether it was worthwhile for the operation to continue.” Until this point, the Israeli media-and most of the country’s liberal intelligentsia, never mind the militant right wing-had been moralistically defending the bombing, and sometimes actually cheering it on. Starting the attacks on a Saturday was a “stroke of brilliance,” the Guardian’s Seamus Milne quotes the country’s biggest selling paper Yediot Aharonot as saying; “the element of surprise increased the number of people who were killed.” The daily Ma’ariv agreed: “We left them in shock and awe.” The rational and genuinely ethical voices of Amira Hass and Gideon Levy have never seemed more isolated.

The brute fact of the matter is that, as long as their air force is killing an entirely defenseless people, the Israeli public and media do cheer them on. As soon as they start paying any kind of price-no matter how grotesquely out of proportion to the level of damage their soldiers are inflicting on unarmed and innocent people-their bloodlust quickly cools. In Gaza, the Israeli infantry won’t take a single step forward unless the ground in front of them-and everything and everyone in it, armed, unarmed, whoever and whatever they are-has been safely cleared away for them by the air or by artillery. “These are ‘Georgia rules,’ which are not so far from the methods Russia used in its conflict last summer,” write Harel and Issacharoff in Ha’aretz. “The result is the killing of dozens of non-combatant Palestinians. The Gaza medical teams might not have reached all of them yet. When an Israeli force gets into an entanglement, as in Sajaiyeh last night [where three Israeli soldiers were killed], massive fire into built-up areas is initiated to cover the extraction. In other cases, a chain of explosions is initiated from a distance to set off Hamas booby-traps. It is a method that leaves a swath of destruction taking in entire streets, and does not distinguish military targets from the homes of civilians.” I’m not sure where the “Georgia” reference comes from: the Israelis used the very same tactics in Jenin and Nablus in 2002, and in southern Lebanon in 2006 and 1982. And it would be an act of futility to point out-for the millionth time-that the Israeli method of warfare takes place in sweeping disregard for the principles of international humanitarian law, not to mention total contempt for innocent human life. This is not to mention that most of the casualties pouring into Gaza’s morgues and hospitals are the victims of the sheer indiscriminate unleashing on densely populated civilian areas of high explosive ordnance from land, sea and air that has been characteristic of Israel’s military style since at least the 1970s.

Israel’s disregard for innocent human life is not motivated only by a desire to forestall the political consequences-especially during an electoral campaign-of Israeli military casualties. It is also a clear indicator of the contempt that Israel has for Palestinian life in general. The cold, hungry, tired, desperate, and terrified men, women and children that Israel is now sweeping away by the dozen in balls of fire and showers of shrapnel are the very same people that it had already reduced to what one UN official months ago warned was “a subhuman existence,” the deliberate product of the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza for over three years, beginning in 2005, before the election of Hamas. They are the same people whose political and human rights Israel has been stifling since the occupation of 1967-twenty years before the creation of Hamas. They are the same people who were ethnically cleansed from their land in 1948 because, as non-Jews, they were inconveniently cluttering up the land that European Zionists wanted to turn into a Jewish state, no matter what the land’s actual population had to say about it.

Israel’s disregard for Palestinian life in Gaza today is, in short, a direct extension of its disregard for Palestinian life since 1948, and what is happening in Gaza today is the continuation of what happened six decades ago. Eighty percent of the people crammed into Gaza’s hovels and shanties are refugees or the descendants of refugees that armed Zionist gangs, which eventually coalesced into the infant Israeli army, terrorized from their homes elsewhere in southwestern Palestine in 1948. They have been herded, penned, and slaughtered by a remorseless power that clearly regards them as subhuman. If you think I’m stretching the point, I’m not. Listen to the words of Professor Arnon Sofer, the government consultant who did so much to help plan the isolation and imprisonment of Gaza, in a interview with the Jerusalem Post in 2004: “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe,” Sofer predicted. “Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure on the border is going to be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.” Sofer admitted only one worry with all the killing, which will, he says, be the necessary outcome of a policy that he himself helped to invent. “The only thing that concerns me,” he says, “is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.”

Meticulously and clinically thought through even before the first rocket from Gaza claimed a life inside Israel, the slaughter in Gaza today has nothing to do with rockets or with Hamas. As Sofer himself explains, it is the purest and most distilled expression of Zionist ideology. “Unilateral separation doesn’t guarantee ‘peace,'” Sofer says in that same interview; “it guarantees a Zionist-Jewish state with an overwhelming majority of Jews.”

And that-taken right from the horse’s mouth-is what the slaughter of innocents in Gaza is fundamentally about: the people being killed today are the ones for whom there is no room in the Zionist vision of the state. They are regarded as an excess population. Not even Malthus thought that a redundant population should just be lined up and shot, or bombed into the ground. But, clearly, times have changed since 1798.

This inhuman madness will end only with the end of the violent ideology that spawned it-when those who are committed to the project of creating and maintaining a religiously and ethnically exclusivist state in what has always been a culturally and religiously heterogeneous land finally relent and accept the inevitable: that they have failed.

Saree Makdisi is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA and the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.

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January 9th, 2009, 2:23 am


125. Off the Wall said:


Wonderful exchange. One of the key thinkgs that have kept my hopes alive in these dark days is the fact that despite of the anger you and Shai have seen over the past couple of weeks on this forum, you continue, and seemingly unstopable to be a voice of reason and reconciliation. I salute both of you, and I would be happy and proud not only to be your neighbour, but also your cousine.

Over the past few years, few Nobel prizes were awarded collectively to large groups. I would like to start a movement to nominate Gaza medical personell, collectively and individually for a nobel prize for peace. In the face of adversity, carnage, and collective mruder, these have been the true heros. It is easy and cowardly to lob a 1000 pound bombs from the security of an airplane knowing that you have no real challange, or to send a rocket northward knowing you do have nothing to live for. But It is not easy to keep on removing the bodies of dead children from the carnage without losing your sanity. One thing, recognition of their heroism will be the ultimate inditment of the murderers.

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January 9th, 2009, 7:04 am


126. Alex said:


Wonderful idea… even though that will place them in the same league like President Shimon Peres.

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January 9th, 2009, 7:26 am


127. Rumyal said:

Hi AIG ma hamatzav hakol beseder?

In computer science, there is the notion of greedy algorithms. These are algorithms that at any given step choose the best available option based on local knowledge. These algorithms are good for simple problems. For more complex problems however you many times need to take a step back and apply algorithms that seemingly do small uncoordinated steps in many different locales of the problem domain, until eventually out of a chaos a complete solution emerges.

You said in Qifa’s blog that you are not willing to plan ahead. The realities taught you to take care for your survival every day from scratch in a “greedy” manner. And of course if you zoom in to December 20th 2008 at that day rockets were fired into Israel so how to solve that particular problem in that particular day? You obviously can’t talk to anybody, because that requires a long term strategy, which you think you can’t have. So the only possible solution is to apply force.

War is not a solution. It’s an illusion of a solution. It’s like drinking to forget your troubles. You wake up with a hangover and your problems are still there, only they have been neglected one more day.

Suppose you’re right and that there is no peaceful solution, what then? Fight till the last drop of blood and go in a bang? No thanks. I would give peaceful options a chance even if they are a long-shot.

Oslo failed and brought all the suicide bombing with it (I was in Israel in the 90’s) because it didn’t address any of the Palestinian problems while compromising their position and leadership. They had to act quickly to show that they reject this “new order”. Yes they chose a horrible weapon but still, our crimes are much more severe. So instead of wallowing in the past, we need to think of new solutions that will give the Palestinians what they need and ask for and not a Bantustan solution which is just another form of subjugation.

Now what is the problem with the right of return? What are you afraid of exactly? What’s wrong with compensating people and letting them choose to live in Israel if they want to? Can’t stand too many Arabs around you? Well if that’s the case then you shouldn’t live in the Middle East.

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January 9th, 2009, 8:12 am


128. Rumyal said:


Thank you for your kind words. Note I never asked anybody not to be angry… That applies to the people of Israel too, when they receive the rockets, it’s not fun, it’s maddening, but there’s a way to react…

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January 9th, 2009, 8:58 am


129. Shai said:


I’ll support any such initiative. There’s no doubt they are the real heroes these days. Don’t forget, they are not only evacuating the injured and dead, they are also dying as well.


I second OTW’s comments about your exchange with AP and AIG. From my own point of view, and from that of peace-loving Israelis, you are very much needed here. In these horrific days, it is a bit difficult to claim you and I are “holding a torch” of any sort (sanity? hope?). But please know that I am proud to stand alongside you.


I was saddened to hear you were banned all this time. I thought you had made a conscious decision not to participate, knowing you couldn’t possibly bring anything positive to light. And, judging from your and Akbar’s comments, I think both of you haven’t changed an ounce, despite the catastrophe our leadership and our army are bringing upon 1.5 million citizens as you read these words.

Neither one of you could even express the slightest compassion for the 700 dead and 3000 injured (so far). No, you remain focused on the 3 Israelis that have died over the past 8 years, and the 10-15 that have died since this criminal operation began. To you, scale means nothing. Your walls of defense will let no bit of news, no image of death and suffering, penetrate the hardened shell of hatred and distrust. To you, Arab blood is not the same as Jewish blood. How would you have reacted, if after that first day (Saturday), newspaper articles read “1 Palestinian dead. 250 Israelis killed… and 700 injured.”? You would have immediately called out “Genocide, Antisemitism, Existential Threat!” and recruited anyone and everyone in the U.S. and “Ramat Hasharon” to go fight those bearded bastards, right?

Have you ever given that consideration? What would YOU do if you were a Palestinian in Gaza, suffocated by the mighty Israel, day and night, nonstop? The average Palestinian family has one meal a day! When was the last time you had one meal a day? When was the last time 122 mm shells hit your house and your neighborhood, every hour of the day, for over two weeks? When was the last time you went out to the street, and saw tens of bodies lying dead on the ground, bleeding their last ounces of life away, torn to pieces by shells, by bombs, and by bullets? Is there ANYTHING that can be said about this massacre, that will cause even a single neuron of pain or thought in your body to be turned on? Is the self-defensive mechanism so well-oiled, that any such suggestion is met with a formidable IDF-style army of apathy?

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January 9th, 2009, 9:05 am


130. Rumyal said:


Well if not a torch then a broom and a scoop, to clean up the mess…

Yalla layla tov it’s already 1:30am here in Ramat Hasharon.

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January 9th, 2009, 9:38 am


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